On our recent overseas trip Craig and I stayed in 7 different places – that’s 7 different places in less than 14 days. As you can imagine, I need to have techniques to learn my way round a new place as soon as I can.
Every apartment has fixtures: furniture, doorways, windows, even pictures on a wall. I use the fixtures to orientate myself and find my way round the place I’m in.
As an example, here’s how I navigated my way round one of the apartments in Warsaw. The apartment had a large combined bedroom/dining room/kitchen, with a passage down to a second bedroom and the bathroom. The front door into the apartment was on the long side of the passage, with the bathroom on the right and the doorway into the bedroom/dining room/kitchen on the left.
There was a thick mat that stretched most of the length of the passage. I used it to indicate where the doorways into each room were – when I felt the edge of the mat I knew to slow down so I wouldn’t stub my toes on the doorframes.
The main room had a window opening onto a busy street. It seemed like the traffic never stopped. While that was a little annoying in the early hours of the morning, I could use the sound to judge which way I should be facing so I wouldn’t fall over the bed, the table or the chairs. Using those fixtures it took me only a few hours to find my way round the apartment as if I had lived there for years.
Of course, it’s not always that easy. Some apartments, especially those with big open spaces, are more confusing to get around without help. But I usually manage to find some way of navigating a new space without needing sight.